Monday, August 15, 2016

Tom Bullough

Tom Bullough grew up on a hill farm in Wales, where he still lives. He has worked as a sawmiller, a music promotor in Zimbabwe, a tractor driver, and a contributor to various titles in the Rough Guides series. At present he is a Visiting Fellow at the University of South Wales. Addlands is his fourth novel, the first to be published in the United States.

Recently I asked Bullough about what he was reading. His reply:
I'm reading several books at once, as usual, but the last I opened – this morning, while waiting for an X-ray – was The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shon Catti by T. J. Llewelyn Prichard, said to be the first Welsh novel (or in any case the first written in the English language). Variously revised in the hope of an English readership, this is the original 1828 version: zesty, smutty, chaotic, with some of the satiric edge you might find in, say, James Hogg. I can't say I've read a lot of it yet, and I can't say I expect it to become a lot more coherent, but Twm himself ('the Welsh Robin Hood') seems a fine sort of trickster, and since Llewelyn Prichard was born in Trallong, just across the valley from where I live, I really have no excuse not to persist. Llewelyn Prichard was an itinerant alcoholic actor turned bookseller who lost his nose either in a duel or, more likely, due to syphilis, and instead wore a wax one attached to a pair of spectacles. In 1862 he passed out into his living room fire and was burnt to death.

The last book I finished, not counting The House Beneath the Water by Francis Brett Young (1884-1954), which I skimmed because it was rubbish, was Elizabeth Clarke's 1969 novel The Valley: a lovely, tender evocation of life in the mid-Wales mountains during the early parts of the 20th century. I have to have read it at least six times now and still, every time, I find something new to steal.
Visit Tom Bullough's website.

--Marshal Zeringue